While I skim through my Facebook and Twitter feed today, I see a lot of patronizing messages for women. ‘Power for women’ – ‘Real men respect women’ and all that jazz. I usually do not like celebrating or observing ‘Days’. So I do not care much for Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, etc..
But I started wondering how Women’s day came about? I am sure it was not invented to gift cards and chocolates by men to women. That probably happened later thanks to Hallmark or some other similar company.
Unlike the perception that America only has two political parties, back in 1909, they did have a Socialist Party of America. Now this party supposedly celebrated Women’s Day for the first time. Now remember, back in 1909, women had a lot fewer rights in the United States. They did not even have the right to vote.
Now the socialist movement was a lot stronger in countries like Germany, Austria and probably France. So the idea of Women’s Day celebration (rather protests) became more popular in Europe. So by March 18, 1911 – International Women’s Day was being marked by over a million people. It was organized by the German Marxist Clara Zetkin.
By 1913 February, Russian women had joined in the action and demonstrations taking place. (That was a 100 years ago!)
Today, March 8 is recognized as International Women’s Day and celebrated or observed in several countries. It also has the backing of the United Nations.
What were they fighting for?
Back in those day women were not allowed to run for elected office, not allowed the right to vote and often treated like second class citizens. Many women workers were simply never given the same wages that men got and often passed over for promotions.
These attitudes towards women were across cultures, across geographic locations and across income groups.
Today the socialist roots of feminist movement might have eroded but many of the causes they are fighting for are still relevant and often reality to millions of women around the world.
Still an unequal world!
There are still many countries where women are treated as nothing but glorified ‘baby making machines’. They are often called mothers, sisters, wives before being recognized simply as individuals.
There are still women not allowed to get educated as much as they want or treated as equals to their male siblings. Even today, traditionally women are paid a lot less money than men are for the same work. If you are living in India ask around how much male household helps make compared to female counterparts.
So what can you do?
This is a rather simple yet tough part. There can be no exceptions and no excuses. All you need to do is to respect women as individuals and respect their right to their individuality.
Stuff you can read: